Articles and News

Understanding Terms Used by MaxBotix Inc.

This document is created to assist you in your sensor selection, troubleshooting, and other services related to our products. 

We want to help you better understand our naming conventions, products exclusive to us, and industry terms. 

1. Explaining our naming conventions

The letters used in our product names are abbreviations for characteristics the sensor has.  Below is a list to assist you in being able to identify our products better.

Product Line Terms

Abbreviation Meaning
HR High Resolution
IR Optical Backup
XL High Output Power
SC Self-Cleaning
WR Weather Resistant

 

All of these are product line terms that stretch across a whole line. They come before the first hyphen (HRLV- MaxSonar-EZ)

 

Individual Product Specific Terms

Abbreviation Meaning
M Most Likely
L Long Range
S High Sensitivity
T TTL
4-20 4-20mA Output
Inverted 4-20mA
AE or A Analog Envelope

 

All of these are individual product-specific terms that come after the last hyphen. They describe the unique characteristics of a unique product.

The elements in these tables make up the name of our products and allow you to, at a glance, determine a few characteristics of a sensor. 

The general structure is as follows “Product Line Descriptors”-“Product Line Name-“Individual Product Descriptors” for example “SCXL-MaxSonar-WRLS” Just note that while WR and EZ describe a product line, in general, they come after the last hyphen.  However again to the example, the whole line is high resolution and XL but not all sensors are TTL.

For example:  Review our MB7563 SCXL-MaxSonar-WRLS 

Maxbotix naming convention

At a glance, you can see it is a weather-resistant sensor, with self-cleaning, long-range and high sensitivity.  Ideally, a sensor with these specs is ideal for tank and bin level measurement. 

*Read more about the MB7563.

2. Environment information

Our sensors are designed to work in protected and unprotected environments.  For applications needing more protection, for water intrusion, corrosion, or other external factors, we’ve developed our F-Option and P-Option.  Review the table below for insight into what protection the F & P options provide. 

*For Weather Resistant Sensors

Term Definition
F-Option* Fluorosilicone sealant for added protection.

Chemically inert seal to operate in harsh environments.

P-Option* Parylene coating for improved corrosion resistance.  Coating applied to the surface of the aluminum transducer.
IP67* IP rated as “dust tight” and protected against immersion for 30 minutes at depths 150mm – 1000mm
IP68* IP rated as “dust tight” and protected against complete, continuous submersion in water.
Protected Office / Home Setting – no exposure, vibration, humidity, etc.

3. Output information

 

Analog Output   Output on a scale. From 0% – 100%.  Ex. 1V – 5V

 

Analog Envelope – Requires advanced knowledge to fully process

  • Envelope of all voltages coming back from the transducer.  See image below.

analog envelope

Analog voltage

  • Voltage scales to distance.  The lower the voltage, the shorter the distance measured and vice versa.

4-20mA

  • Current scales to distance – performs better on long wire runs.

 

Digital Output Output sent over digital high and low values. – Generally more noise resistant 

 

Pulse Width

  • Digital output. Width of high pulse (in time) corresponds to distance.

Pulse Width Output

TTL

  • Between VCC and 0. Sends serial data. True TTL data – Starts at the high voltage

 

RS232 

  • Inverted TTL data. 0 – VCC *True RS232 should order TTL and purchase an inverter

RS232 & TTL

USB

  • Connect sensor through USB to a logic device and read through a serial terminal.

 

I2C –  Inter Integrated Circuit 

  • Most complicated to work with. I2C includes 2 lines:  One line is for the time, the other for the data. 

I2C

4. Calibrated Beam Patterns

We’ve referenced our calibrated beam patterns in the article MaxBotix Fully Calibrated Beam Patterns.

To summarize that article:

Our sensor beam patterns are factory calibrated for many applications. 

Each sensor line/model reflects different sensitivities and detection zones.

There is little to no deviation between our sensors of the same model.

Benefits:

  • Consistent performance
  • Reliability

 

In Conclusion

We created this resource to help our audience to easily identify and differentiate the sensors we offer.

If you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance with sensor selection, contact our team at [email protected]

smart parking vehicle sensors

Smart Parking, Sensors For Vehicle Detection

IoT isn’t slowing down and there’s an increase in the development of Smart Cities.  

At the time this was written, Bill Gates announced his plans to develop Belmont, a smart city in Arizona, just west of Phoenix.

“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.”

 

If you’ve read our articles on Smart Farming and Smart Waste Management, you can see the potential to make jobs more effective, save resources, and connect in a way that makes everyday life easier.  We have spent years developing and testing our sensors for use with automobile detection.  Along with sensors used in smart waste management and precision agriculture, we’re being used in smart parking solutions across the world.

 

What is Smart Parking?

Smart Parking is a parking strategy that combines technology and human innovation in an effort to use as few resources as possible—like fuel, time and space—to achieve faster, easier and denser parking of vehicles for the majority of time they remain idle. – Parksmart

 

How Parking Sensors work

 

proxsonar sensor for parking garage applications

Our ProxSonar sensor, perfect for parking garage applications.

Information about parking spaces in a certain area is collected and processed in real-time by sensors to place vehicles in those available parking spaces.  Like smart waste management, it allows the optimization of workforce management and makes it easier for drivers to park.

 

 

Parking meters are also developed with sensors.  They automatically expire what time is left on a meter when the vehicle departs the stall.  It forces the next driver to have to put more money in the meter, no time is rolled over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at this infographic and imagine the possibilities for application in hospital parking, parking in urban areas,  shopping malls or sports venues.

smart parking infographic

To make these applications to work they need a reliable ultrasonic sensor to detect the position of the vehicles like in this video.

For these types of applications, we offer two options for smart parking.

  1. MB8450- USB- Car Detection Sensor

We designed the Car Detection Sensor as a weather resistant, low-cost USB option to detect the side of a vehicle in a drive-through.  Multiple sensors can be used together in one system with little effect from sensor to sensor interference.

 

The main applications this sensor is used in include:

  • Drive-thru ATMs
  • Drive-thrus
  • Automated displays and advertising
  • Proximity zone detection
  • Kiosks and booths
  • Multi-sensor arrays
  • Car park signs
  • Smart parking meters
  • Parked car detection

 

  1. ParkSonar-EZ

Our ParkSonar-EZ line is mainly used in indoor parking or covered environments.  It’s designed to be in a protected indoor application.  It’s a low cost, high-performance sensor which also allows the integration of several sensors into one system with little to no effect from sensor interference.

 

The main applications this sensor is used in include:

  • Parked car detection
  • Proximity zone detection
  • Sheltered drive-thrus (fast food restaurants, banks, etc.)
  • Non-condensing environments only
  • Designed for protected indoor environments.

 

Companies like Barcelona based Parkimeter, rely on accurate information when booking parking spaces for customers.  An accurate count of spaces allows Parkimeter to book parking spaces via an online booking system. All of the information is collected by sensors and a database to ensure there is no double booking and your space is available when you show up to park

 

With the trend of mobile devices and IoT, staying connected is more important than ever.  Traffic congestion can be reduced as well as pollution.  Management costs can be cut as automation is introduced.  Real-time data can be leveraged to analyze trends and make adjustments to improve driver experience.  

 

The right parking space detection sensor can make a great impact.

 

If you have a parking project or an application where a vehicle needs to be detected, contact us @ [email protected] to discuss sensor options for your application.

 

Featured sensors for Smart Parking.


MB1001 ParkSonar-EZ-72

MB1001 ParkSonar-EZ-72

The ParkSonar-EZ ultrasonic proximity sensors are designed to detect vehicles within a calibrated detection zone. The ParkSonar-EZ proximity sensors report when a vehicle, or other detectable target, enters the detection zone.

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MB8450 Car Detection Sensor

MB8450 Car Detection Sensor

The MB8450 Car Detection Sensor is a low‑cost vehicle detection sensor that uses ultrasonic technology for non-contact sensing. The MB8450 is designed to be an easy to use sensor for applications where vehicle detection is desired. This sensor is great for applications such as vehicle kiosks, ATMs, and bank drive thru’s.

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ultrasonic sensor projects with maxbotix

Ultrasonic Sensor Projects with MaxBotix

Problem Solving Projects with Ultrasonic Sensors

We started manufacturing ultrasonic sensors in 2004 to fulfill a need.  The problem we aimed to solve was to provide a high-quality sensor at a manageable price point.   

For that reason, we’ve been widely used for applications as original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), in Nonrecurring engineering (NRE), as well as hobby projects.

Technology is constantly changing the way we live our lives and do our jobs, and we plan to be there every step of the way.  

With the growing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT), we’ve seen interesting trends in the industry when it comes to sensing.  Finoit Technologies listed these 15 Sensor types being used in IoT currently.

  1. Temperature Sensors
  2. Proximity Sensors
  3. Pressure Sensors
  4. Water Quality Sensors
  5. Chemical Sensors
  6. Gas Sensors
  7. Smoke Sensors
  8. IR Sensors
  9. Level Sensors
  10. Image Sensors
  11. Motion Detection Sensors
  12. Accelerometer Sensors
  13. Gyroscope Sensors
  14. Humidity Sensors
  15. Optical Sensors

MaxBotix manufactures sensors specifically for the functions of Proximity, Level and Motion Detection.

Here’s a list of cool projects and products made using our sensors.  Each application is measuring distance or detecting an obstacle.

 

Multi Controllable Robot Car

This particular project was first published on Hackster.io in December 2016 by Sascha.

The robot car is designed to drive automatically, with video, controlled with an Xbox One controller, or take speech commands.  For automatic driving capabilities, an ultrasonic distance sensor was installed.  

For this project, our MB1202 was used to sense.  Our MB1202 features an I2C bus for easy I2C integration and multi-sensor operation.  In this application, only one sensor is used to detect objects in a short range.   

The possibilities for an application like this in industrial applications are endless.  Including using robots on your farm or robots in your warehouse picking products.    

To take a look at the project, all the parts used to create the Multi Controllable Car, check it out on Hackster.io

 

Autonomous Rover

This particular project was written about in 2010 on Hackaday.com about a Rover designed to drive Autonomously and tested in the creator’s school hallways.

Two of our sensors are mounted on the hood of the car to guide it around corners and keep it in the center of the hallway.  

If you fast forward to 4:10, you’re able to see where manual driving is engaged.

DIY Magic Mirror

In this particular project, the creator makes a “Magic Mirror” from an Android Phone / Tablet.  There’s an “easy” way to wire it using plug and play sensors.  Then there’s a custom option which incorporates our popular LV-MaxSonar-EZ1 sensor in the design of the application.  The sensor in this project is used to detect when someone is in front of the “Mirror” so it can greet you. The custom schematic was created to customize the mounting,

According to Magic Mirror’s site,

The Magic Mirror plays animations based on input from various sensors which you choose based on your installation type. Featuring four characters, each character responds to the sensor inputs with its own personality.”

The creator has DIY models as well as fully built products for sale.  

Below is a schematic of how our sensors are wired in the project.

diy magic mirror using maxbotix sensor to sense proximity

Watch the video you can see how Al Linke from DIYMagicMirror develops his project from start to finish.  You can also purchase the finished product built for you online.

Garage Parking Sensor

This project detailing the creation and application of a garage parking sensor for a two car garage was published in 2015.

ultrasonic sensors installed in garage wall

Chip McClelland wanted to solve the problem of trying to put too many things in your garage.  Things get tight when you want to park cars and store other items in your garage.  You want to park your car the same way every time to ensure you’ll have room.

The two LV-MaxSonar-EZ0 sensors are installed in the wall at the bumper level to ensure the cars are stopped at the proper place.  

For More information, take a look at Chip’s post on Hackster.io.

Talking Coffee Machine

talking-coffee-machine

Credit berkelaarmrt.com

 The Talking Coffee Machine is like the Magic Mirror in a way for the sensor detection applied in the product.  If you take a look at the video, you’re able to see how the machine “wakes” as someone walks in front of the machine.  The machine then takes the person’s order via voice command.

This machine could have the potential to put many baristas out of work.

External Focus for DSLRs

The working title of the project was Sensopoda, and it’s listed as an “Alternative sensor assisted Auto-focus System for filming with DSLRs.  

maxbotix sensor for focus

The objective of the project was to use an external sensor(one of our HRLV-MaxSonar-EZ) to assist in the focusing capabilities of older DSLR cameras when shooting video.  The restrictions of the onboard CPU led this brilliant team to design something to follow a target to keep them in focus during a shot.

You can take a look at the full look scope of the project here.

Credit: http://files.julian-h.de/sensopoda.pdf

 

Conclusion

Our sensors have been introduced in many great applications over the years, large and small.  It’s always interesting to see how and where you can use distance sensing to solve a problem.  We would like to see more projects like these.  

We want to hear from you, what have you created to solve a problem?

Feel free to contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or email us @ [email protected].

Products Related to the Article


MB1000 LV-MaxSonar-EZ0

MB1000 LV-MaxSonar-EZ0

The LV‑MaxSonar‑EZ0 has the widest and most sensitive beam pattern of any unit from LV‑MaxSonar‑EZ sensor line. This makes the LV‑MaxSonar‑EZ0 an excellent choice for use where high sensitivity, wide beam, or people detection is desired.

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MB1010 LV-MaxSonar-EZ1

MB1010 LV-MaxSonar-EZ1

The LV‑MaxSonar‑EZ1 is a great choice for use where sensitivity is needed along with side object rejection.

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MB1202 I2CXL-MaxSonar-EZ0

MB1202 I2CXL-MaxSonar-EZ0

The I2CXL-MaxSonar-EZ sensors now feature an I2C bus. This allows for easy I2C integration and multisensor operation using a single bus.

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Sensing Trash Levels – Smart Waste Management

According to Wikipedia,

Waste management or waste disposal is all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes amongst other things, collection,

smart waste management infographic

smart waste management infographic

transport, treatment, and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling.”

 

What makes Smart Waste Management so Smart?

Waste management companies rely on technology to reduce their time and resources allocated to managing waste.  Sensor-based technologies are key to developing smarter solutions for solid waste management.  

According to the Annenberg Learner Foundation, “Every year, the United States generates approximately 230 million tons of “trash”–about 4.6 pounds per person per day.”With such an increase of waste, problems with waste collection, transport, processing, and disposal have grown.

Smart Waste Management is a necessary solution.

 

This infographic from Telefonica breaks down how smart waste management works.

Fill-level sensors designed specifically for sensing waste levels, like our TrashSonar line, are being used to sense the level of trash bins in order to determine if a can needs to be emptied or not.  That means there could be less time on the road for trucks, less need for human resources as well as fuel emissions.

 

How Does Smart Waste Management Work?

  • Sensors measure the level of waste
  • Containers send the info to a data management system of the level of waste or last collection.
  • Only certain bins are marked for collection.
  • Vehicles only collect full or overdue containers.  

The way waste is collected is smarter, reducing overall transport and collection by 50%.

The main benefits of Smart Waste Collection include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Less Cost
  • Eco Friendly
  • Optimized Workforce
  • No overflowing trash in the streets.

Products in the market include: 

Solar powered trash compactors.

Wireless fill level sensors provide real-time information on how full a bin is and alert owners when it needs to be emptied.

Saas solutions optimize schedules and routes for collectors.  They manage data collection, optimize routes, and also use labor and fleet resources more efficiently.

The data collection allows companies to forecast waste pickup based on past information.

 

 

 

 

 

Binology breaks down every step of the process well.  For smart cities, those are the main problems you’re solving.

Where is Smart Waste Management being used?

  • Residential Buildings
  • Streets
  • Commercial Buildings
  • College Campuses
  • Homes
  • Public Places
  • Hospitals
  • Airports

Ecubelabs has an airport waste management solution which, according to Hannah Forbes, increased Dublin Airport’s operational efficiency upwards of 90%:

After deploying the solution, we have been able to go from collecting 840 containers 4 times a day to collecting just 80 containers a day. This has increased our operational efficiency upwards of 90% and resulted in significant cost savings. The solution has also provided us with data which has allowed us to recognize peak times in areas and from that adjust the allocation of staffing in those areas as well as increase waste container capacity where needed.

Smart city initiatives and new regulations are expected to help the smart waste management segment expand at a compound annual growth rate of 16.9 percent between 2016 and 2021. –

MarketsandMarkets.

Companies like Envac are taking it a step further in developing an Automated Waste Collection System.  

The Swedish company has an underground waste collection system which collects waste via vacuum tubes, whether outside or indoors.  The underground tanks have sensors that notify waste collection when the tank is full and ready to be serviced. The waste is then collected away from residential areas by a truck and then transported to a waste management facility.

IoT solutions are being introduced to everyday life and making cities smarter.  We want to make sure we’re here to cover any part of your journey in changing the world.

If you’re in need of a reliable sensor for your waste level sensing, our TrashSonar line is ideal.

Place your order today from our webstore or contact our sales team at [email protected]

Great sensors for Smart Bin and IoT Fill-level Sensing .


MB7137 I2CXL-TrashSonar-WR

MB7137 I2CXL-TrashSonar-WR

The MB7137 I2CXL-TrashSonar-WR features the I2C communication interface. This allows for up to 127 sensors to be operated on a single bus for a network of trash bins that are monitored by a single control device for multi‑sensor operation.

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MB7138 XL-TrashSonar-WRM

MB7138 XL-TrashSonar-WRM

The MB7138 XL-TrashSonar-WRM ignores smaller targets and only reports the range to target with the largest acoustic return. This is one of our advanced weather-resistant sensors designed for target detection and ranging outdoors or in tank or bin applications.

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MB7139 XL-TrashSonar-WR

MB7139 XL-TrashSonar-WR

The MB7139 XL-TrashSonar-WR1 reports the range to the first detectable target in a trash bin. This sensor is our most recommended sensor for testing within trash bins.

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smart farming precision agriculture

Smart Farming – Digital Revolution of Agriculture

Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy. Allan Savory

 

Taking so many factors into consideration, farming has gotten smarter. Farms had to adapt to deal with climate issues, degradation of land, government mandates, regulations, and more.

 

Agriculture has been evolving like any other market.  Evolution is necessary when innovation controls the market. Decisions are made in farming led by data. Analytics take precedent over gut feelings and you can visualize the most logical steps to take in your operation.

 

With that said, Data is the new oil.

 

Big Data Analytics in Agriculture

Technology allows us to be more connected than ever.  As stated in the video above, data is taken at any given point in the process of farming.  Pieces of farm equipment now have computers which send data to the cloud, like location.  GPS allows the farmers to locate where a piece of equipment is at any given moment.

This slideshow displays where the data attributed to Agriculture comes from,
  • Publications / theses / reports
  • Educational material and content
  • Research data
  • Primary data – measurements and observations structured, e.g. datasets as tables digitized in image or videos.
  • Secondary data – processed elaborations, e.g. dendrograms, pie charts, models
  • Sensor Data
  • Experimental protocols and methods
  • Social data
  • Germplasm data
  • Soil Maps
  • Statistical data
  • Financial data

A major challenge and concern is the human resources it takes to effectively analyze these data sets to form an idea of an action map.  Data is collected in real time.

Precision Agriculture Technology

Precision agriculture (PA) or satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM) is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. – Wikipedia

By using the big data collected at any stage of farming, smarter, more precise decisions based on analytics can be made.  Data is collected by many devices, especially those used in the field like UAV’s and Tractors.

MaxBotix specializes in UAV sensors and ultrasonic range finders.  Similar to those used in projects like Agricultural Drones and Automatic tractors.

UAV’s that are used for stages of agriculture have been put in place and made farming easier. They can do everything from counting plants to checking soil temperature and water levels, as well as map the land.

According to Michael Mazur from PwC, here are Six Options for Agricultural Drones.

Soil and Field Analytics – Instrumental at the start of the crop cycle.  Produce precise 3-D maps and planning seed planting patterns.

Planting – Drone-planting systems have been created to shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil.

Crop Spraying – Distance-measuring equipment – ultrasonic echoing enables a drone to adjust altitude as the topography and geography varies, thus avoiding collisions. Drones can scan the ground and spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and spraying in real time for even coverage.

Crop Monitoring Largest obstacle for farming is the large fields and low efficiency in monitoring crops. Time-series animations can show the precise development of a crop and reveal production efficiencies, enabling better crop management.

Irrigation – Easily identify which parts of a field are dry or need more improvements.  Once a crop is growing, drones can calculate the vegetation index.

Assessing Crop Health Spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees.  By making it easier to watch the crops, you can respond to save an entire orchard.

As you can see there are practical uses for drones that can help a farm maintain sustainability.

You have to take into account the potential downsides of using drones on your farm. Droneguru.net, has listed some issues an organization may face when considering implementing agricultural uavs.

  • Flight time and Flight range
    • Most drones have a short flight time of between 20 minutes to an hour. Limits radius that can be covered during every flight time.
  • Initial Cost of Purchase
    • Some can cost up to $25,000.  Some drones include hardware, software, tools and imaging sensors.
  • Federal Laws
    • The use of drones for agriculture purposes is considered commercial. Farmers need to undergo FAA operator training to obtain a remote pilot certificate or they can hire an operator.
  • Interference Within the Airspace
    • Agricultural UAV’s share the same airspace with manually manned aircraft which makes them prone to interference.
  • Connectivity
    • Most farms in the US have very little online coverage.  If any. Farmers intending to use drones have to invest in connectivity or drones that can store the data locally.
  • Weather Dependent
    • You may not be able to fly your drones if it’s too windy or rainy.
  • Knowledge And Skill
    • Skilled and knowledgeable personnel are needed to translate useful information. Average farmers without these skills may be forced to either train or hire skilled workers.

 

Agricultural Robots

 

Also known as agribots or agbots, are robots deployed for agricultural purposes.   Using these robots as well as drones have helped farmers save a lot of time, and money ultimately.

Farm operations can be run autonomously while reducing environmental impact.

 

Tasks like picking fruit, tending to crops, weeding and fertilizing can be done as hands off as possible with a fleet working day and night.

Take a look at this agribot designed for weeding.

 

Everything is connected when smart farming.  The data drives decisions. The data has to be collected at all points, if possible, make educated decisions about the welfare of the farm.

Smart Farming with IoT

precision agriculture smart farming

As you can see in the infographic provided by Nesta, the importance of all of these connections help the overall operation to sustainably grow. There are large amounts of unused and underutilized research and data that is slowing down the industry.

Livestock can be tracked, their position as well as their feed levels with a grain bin level sensor. Not only can livestock be bio monitored for health issues, so can the farmers and employees for fatigue and stress.

By farming smarter, quality and steady supplies can be provided.  With more introduction of technology, more funding will be put into agriculture.  The main factors holding back this wave of agriculture is all technical.  Hardware, data services, connectivity, and data security are major concerns.   

smart farming pros and cons

Precision agriculture or smart farming as it’s also known, isn’t going anywhere. Data IS the new oil.  Not only do you need to be able to collect it, you have to interpret it. By using the different methods we’ve listed for data collection; making sound decisions with crops is easier now.

MaxBotix wants to help if you need to detect boom heights on your tractors or need UAV sensors for your agricultural drones.

 

A Few of Our Most Popular Products.


Perfect Sensors for Outdoor UAV’s

Our sensors have great performance and resistance to acoustic and electric noise. Discover the best sensors we have for non-protected UAV operation.

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Perfect Sensors for Grain Bin Level Sensing

sensors for grain bin sensing

The cost-effective SCXL MaxSonar WR is a groundbreaking self-cleaning ultrasonic sensor featuring high resolution, incredible accuracy, …

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